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Houston's Commute Among World's Most Painful
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 3:43 PM  

Moscow traffic Pity the poor motorists who sit stuck in traffic in Beijing, Mexico City or Johannesburg. Houston drivers, you don't have it as bad as those cities - but we did make it to the list of top 20 cities with the worse commutes, reports wired.com.

A survey released today, commissioned by IBM and conducted by Survey Sampling International, compiled a "Commuter Pain Index," which ranks the emotional and economic stress of commuting.

While our nation's population grew almost 20 percent between 1982 and 2001, traffic outpaced that growth, jumping 236 percent.

Beijing's traffic is growing 10 percent every year, making 69 percent of the respondents say they've given up and gone home after sitting snarled in traffic. The photo posted here is of traffic in Moscow.

Drivers in 20 cities were surveyed in 2008 and 2009.  More than half blamed traffic for adversely affecting their physical or mental health. In New Delhi, 96 percent of the respondents said their commute harms their health.

Los Angeles came in No. 14 on the pain index, followed by Berlin, Montreal, New York and then Houston.

American respondents said traffic has grown worse in the past three years - yet more than 8 in 10 Americans drive to work alone.

Read the IBM research here.

Now, more than ever, Houston clearly needs the five light-rail lines METRO is building to connect our neighborhoods and work centers.

 

Comments

Don G said:

No No and No Mary!

Your companies dream of five new light rail lines will NOT improve things for Houston (wishing this program had html and underlining).

This is why most people I , and others, talk to think your (METRO) plans are foolharded and simply a means to grow METRO.

Let's look at those cities mentioned in the report. Let's also look at what THEY have and how many kilometers;

#1 - Bejing: Building a huge and significant subway system with NO light rail like METRO plans(at-grade trolley car lines). Currently about 210 km with another 370 km within the next 3 years (will put them over Moscow)

#2 - Mexico City: Has one light rail line that is separate from the other transit lines (no tranfers). The subway system in this ancient city of the Aztecs is one of the world's largest. There are currently 11 lines with 201 km and 175 stations. It ranks 2nd largest in the world.

#3 - Johannesburg: Little on their efforts but here is a comment on what they are currently building - "It will consist of a number of underground stations, as well as above ground stations." Notice it is fully grade separated, not in-the-streets.

#4 - Moscow: Currenlt ranks #1 in transit for the entire world! 301 kms of subway! No in-the-street light rail.

#5 - New Delhi: "Underground subways are a common feature across New Delhi. As of 2008, 15 subways were operational." No at grade light rail in-the-streets.

Sao Paulo: "São Paulo has no tram lines, although trams used to be common in the first half of the 20th century.[105] São Paulo's underground train system is considered modern, safe and clean and, although it still has some problems with overcrowding, it was considered one of the best subway systems..."  Again, NO light rail in-the-streets.

What are we seeing?  That REAL cities, world class and forward thinking are basically fully grade-separated and use buses at grade.

METRO is not building to create a real solution.  All we will have in far more increased grid lock created by those at grade lines as proven by the Main Street line now.  Blocked off street crossings, limited left turns, delays at red lights and .....slowwwwww transit.

Again, the speaking points of METRO are that they care.  Then everyone who works for METRO should be forced to ride it to and from work for starters.

Sorry in advance for typos and such :))

# June 30, 2010 6:47 PM

DominicMazoch said:

To me, diving in San Antonio is more of a pain than here.  Here, if there is something wrong on a road or freeway, you can get off and use surface roads.  In SA, there is only 1 through E-W street: Commerce, and one N-S street:  New Braunfels,  The roads in the CBD are basily paved cattle trails from the early times.  That is, the CBD is NOT a grid.  And parts of IH-10, and E_W interstate, actually goes N-S west of the CBD, and IH=35, goes E-W from the north side of the CBD to the Kirby interchange with H-410.  You do not need to have a Pearl of Lone Star to get confused!

VIA is planning on BRT on Fred. Road, which is sometning they need on that heavily used corridor!

# June 30, 2010 10:12 PM

DominicMazoch said:

Cost of transportation in US costs more than food per year?  With the traffic?  False "freedom" to me!  Plus sending $1-2 billion a day to places in the world that really don't like us to fuel our cars.  Call that "freedom"?  

# June 30, 2010 11:13 PM

don y said:

How are the five light rail lines in the inner city going to help commuters who mostly drive from the suburbs?

# July 1, 2010 5:58 AM

John Smith said:

My Turn,

Persons along a rail line will take the rail instead of their car into downtown. Medical Center patients and personnel living near the rail lines can take the rail to the Medical Center. Students can get to community college or university classes by rail instead of automobile.  There may be fewer disabled autos on the freeway because people are taking the rail.  The result will be more open lanes for suburban commuters.

Once the rail lines are complete the park and ride commuter buses may end their trip at the rail stations.  The rail would then take people downtown, the Medical Center, or college or university. That would get bus traffic out of downtown.  The result will be more open lanes for suburban commuters.

# July 1, 2010 4:31 PM

Don G said:

don y said: "How are the five light rail lines in the inner city going to help commuters who mostly drive from the suburbs?"

If someone asks that question, they will respond that this is just a "starter system" or that now we need commuter rail to complete the plan.

ANYTHING, that ties into a slow at grade in-the-street group of trolley car lines will simply bog down people.

# July 1, 2010 4:57 PM

Steve Palmer said:

If suburbanites cared that much about a short commute, they probably wouldn't live in the suburbs in the first place. I'm just sayin'.

# July 1, 2010 5:56 PM

Justin Brown said:

Houston needs more commuter rail than light rail. I remember when I used to live in San Francisco, I used to catch the CalTrain to visit my relatives and friends at San Jose. Those trains runs up to 80 mph (they have limited, express, and regular train services). Also, if I wanted  to visit Oakland, I take the BART subway train, and I can get there in 6 minutes. While in car, it will take me around or more than 20 minutes.

Imagine if Houston had a faster and efficient commuter rail. People will be able to travel to Katy, SugarLand, Clear Lake, Galveston, The Woodlands, and other cities quicker. Who needs a car if a train can travel really quick. In addition, tourists will be able to take the train and explore Houston area..instead of looking for maps and getting lost.

Light rail is good for inner cities, but it's not enough to flow the traffic because of its suburbs. It's good to have light rail, but it won't solve any traffic problem. Having more commuter rails will reduce the traffic congestion.

# July 1, 2010 10:49 PM

Mike Harrington said:

Of course, when it comes to lobbying for taxpayer funding for expensive, elevated, grade-separated mass transit from Houston's urban core to the suburbs, Don G is nowhere to be found.  

Don should research his assertions.  Moscow has a huge tram system:

http://tram.ruz.net/maps/sh20051200.gif

# July 2, 2010 8:24 AM

Don G said:

Mike Harrington said:

"Don should research his assertions.  Moscow has a huge tram system"

I thought we were talking about light rail for the city versus small trams such as Moscow has?  Do they have light rail as we define it here?

Here is just one quote on Moscow's trams from a website:

"Moscow trams - Trams are a novel way to get around Moscow."

and another site:

"Moscow has an extensive tram system which first opened in 1899. The last really new line was built in 1984. Its daily usage by Muscovites is low (approx. 5%) because it has been taken many vital cuts although it still remains vital in some districts for those who need to get to the nearby Metro station."

Novel and low useage.

Many have argued that METRO should replace the existing light rail vehicles with novel tram cars.

As to Mike's statement that I do not fight for grade separated transit for Houston to the suburbs, I have no idea where he got that false statement.

As Mike added in the word expensive, rather we build real transit that is fully grade separated (including those 5 lines plus Main, than to waste money of cheaper alternatives that METRO is now doing.

Moscow has built subway for their primary destination routes.  The trams will slowly drift away.  Shanghai and Beijing are eliminating the only trolley buses they have and building exclusively subway.  

# July 2, 2010 4:39 PM

DominicMazoch said:

I remember when people complained there were TOO MANY BUSES on Main and Fannin  streets!  Not to mention the blue smog along those streets!

# July 4, 2010 10:47 AM

Agatha said:

Mike:

Thanks for reminding us to read critically. We should always be on the lookout for statements that contain unsupported arguments and subjective (value and emotion-laden words) language.

# July 6, 2010 12:30 AM

Don Gallagher said:

Agatha said:

"Thanks for reminding us to read critically. We should always be on the lookout for statements that contain unsupported arguments and subjective (value and emotion-laden words) language."

One can agree with that statement Agatha as related to the focus of METRO on these "5 light rail lines" and the attempt to relate them to somehow solving the problems of congestion and especially Houston as compared to the cities that have worse conditions.

The facts are quite clear that these new in-the-street lines will not reduce congestion and very well may increase it. Watch what will happen at say Westheimer and Post Oak if they build a line there.

One also must look at the background-advocacy of who is making any comment(s).

Mary works for METRO and follows the viewpoints they author.  I will usually talk to a lot of average people each week as to what they think and well into 80& of them think it is a waste of funds and effort.

Those same people will agree that fully grade separated mass transit is a viable solution just as Shanghai, Bejjing, NYC and many other cities are focusing on.

The problem this blog has is that too many authors are unknown as to where they work or who they really are.  No bios and very easy to create personas and thus this lacks credible strength as a forum.

# July 6, 2010 11:15 PM

Cedric Collins said:

Don Gallagher said, "The problem this blog has is that too many authors are unknown as to where they work or who they really are.  No bios and very easy to create personas and thus this lacks credible strength as a forum."

Don,

My dire question to you is---why do YOU want to care so much about who someone really is and where they work?  This should not be a place where people would want to know about each other.  There's a time and a place for that (e-mails, for instance).

This is NOT a forum (like this one=>http://www.cptdb.ca/index.php?).  That's what you call a REAL forum---complete with multiple mods, multiple "threads," etc.  I've been there three years now and can be very active in certain threads.  Here, you aren't required to provide your real name and it's not mandatory to do so (big + there).

"The facts are quite clear that these new in-the-street lines will not reduce congestion and very well may increase it. Watch what will happen at say Westheimer and Post Oak if they build a line there."

Ever heard of transit agencies (like METRO) trying to get folks to ditch the car and take mass transit instead?  The only reason why you may think these new lines may not help in reducing congestion is that there are too many car-dependent people out there.

# July 8, 2010 8:11 AM

Don Gallagher said:

Don,

"My dire question to you is---why do YOU want to care so much about who someone really is and where they work?  This should not be a place where people would want to know about each other.  There's a time and a place for that (e-mails, for instance)."

Dire seems to be an unuausl preface but there is no need to capitalize YOU as to caring.

It is quite easy in these forums for people to create personas or false namea and basically say anything they want and slant a thread, or information line.

Let's say that someone is a die-hard trolley or light rail person?  Mike H is and I know him.  No problem with him as I know his focus and wishes in general.

Even he, though, does no have a profile. I did, and still do. I even link to a Yahoo Group I run.  I am an advocate of grade separated mass transit, especially in high-density areas.

There are no email addresses given here for members?

"This is NOT a forum (like this one=>http://www.cptdb.ca/index.php?).  That's what you call a REAL forum---complete with multiple mods, multiple "threads," etc.  I've been there three years now and can be very active in certain threads.  Here, you aren't required to provide your real name and it's not mandatory to do so (big + there)."

That one is a special interest group and I am active in many of that type as well.  Suggestions have been made to Mary to change this site to a better design such as the one you show above.  This group lacks the ability to follow a specific thread or see what is new.

The difference with this particular group and factual information is that it is a governmental operation suing tax payer money to operate and what is said effects public opinion.

"Ever heard of transit agencies (like METRO) trying to get folks to ditch the car and take mass transit instead?  The only reason why you may think these new lines may not help in reducing congestion is that there are too many car-dependent people out there."

Please do not put incorrect words as to what my reason Cedric. They, METRO, really don't effect moving many people from their car to transit.  The current light rail line (really simply a trolley car line) delays other modes of travel at most intersections (been to them and clocked them FYI) and has removed a lot of previous crossings fro both pedestrians and motor vehicles.  Main St is a dead zone compared to Louisianna (used to be active)

Put in subway or elevated on that same route and radical differences with zero interuption to any and all cross movement.

Buses are essential parts to link to main lines.  In Houston, we have light rail running at 6 minute intervals (even back in the early years) and many of those are empty.  Yet buses run at 15 minutes or more and are rare to see on primary routes.

Shanghai and Bejing have thousands upon thousand of buses running all the time.  I never sawa so many in those two cities anywhere else.  One can literally go to a bus stop and a bus WILL show up VERY quickly.

They have no ( a couple of bus trolley lines soon to be replaced with buses) at grade light rail but opted to g with Metro lines that grid the city.  Faster, quieter and no use of existing roadways.

# July 8, 2010 4:08 PM

Cedric Collins said:

"Put in subway or elevated on that same route and radical differences with zero interuption to any and all cross movement."

You DO know how much it costs for Houston and METRO to tear up the streets worse than it is now just to put a subway line where the current METRORail line is?  If you wanted to put an elevated railway of some sort in Houston, how do you think it'll work out?  METRO needs to think this through first before going along with it.

"That one is a special interest group and I am active in many of that type as well.  Suggestions have been made to Mary to change this site to a better design such as the one you show above.  This group lacks the ability to follow a specific thread or see what is new."

Am I missing something here?  How can this be defined as an "interest group?"  At least it's better organized than this and I think Mary (WITH HELP---mind you) should create something like that.  You last sentence is totally wrong in the fact that you CAN follow a specific thread via e-mail.  In other words, there IS a feature which allows you to get e-mails letting you know when someone posts a new comment on any thread you wish to follow (or track).  You can even subscribe to any of the "forums" on there.

"Dire seems to be an unuausl preface but there is no need to capitalize YOU as to caring."

Incorrect answer.  That's where social networking sites such as Facebook come in.  Once there, you can learn more about whoever you want---if they want to add you as a friend, of course.  I'm there---seriously, I am.  All you will know here is my name and that's the only "compromise" I'll offer at this point.

"The difference with this particular group and factual information is that it is a governmental operation suing tax payer money to operate and what is said effects public opinion."

Come again?  What does that have to do with its operation?

"Please do not put incorrect words as to what my reason Cedric. They, METRO, really don't effect moving many people from their car to transit.  The current light rail line (really simply a trolley car line) delays other modes of travel at most intersections (been to them and clocked them FYI) and has removed a lot of previous crossings fro both pedestrians and motor vehicles.  Main St is a dead zone compared to Louisianna (used to be active)"

My comment still stands  in the sense that there are too many car-dependent people not just in Houston but in other large cities and if TAs don't get more and more people to take transit at least once, traffic will only get worse instead of getting better in the next coming years.  Just watch and see.

# July 20, 2010 9:48 AM
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